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Class suspension in areas hit by Rolly, Ulysses urged

A HOUSE leader on Monday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to temporarily postpone classes in areas devastated by typhoons Rolly and Ulysses.

“Distance learning amid COVID-19 is no longer a case of sufficient internet access. Students have no electricity, no access to water and other basic resources – all while having to deal with the threats of this pandemic,” said House Assistant Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Precious Castelo.

“The least we can do to help those in typhoon-ravaged communities in these trying times is give students and teachers and their families a respite from academic work,” said Castelo.

Castelo noted that typhoons Rolly and Ulysses have left tens of thousands displaced and road and communications infrastructure damaged.

She said many of those dislocated are housed temporarily in school buildings, while telecommunications companies (telcos) are trying to restore service.

“Until such service is restored and there is strong, sustainable connectivity, distance learning is not possible,” she said.

Castelo suggested that the DepEd give its regional, provincial, city, and municipal officials the discretion to determine areas in Bicol, Cagayan Valley and Metro Manila where online learning could be postponed and for how long.

“It is only humane to allow students to recover physically and mentally in the next few weeks. Grades should not add the burden the academic community has to face in difficult times,” she stressed.

She said she was sure education officials “will not postpone classes for the sake of postponing, because sooner or later, they will have to recoup lost time by extending their school calendar or holding makeup learning session.”

Castelo said in areas not affected by the recent typhoons, teachers should continue conducting online classes.

During the proposed postponement, she said education and local officials could clean school houses submerged by flooding, while telcos are repairing their infrastructure.

Local officials could also relocate evacuees housed schools in case teachers need to use their classrooms, she added.